Happy Memorial Day to everyone! I hope you’re spending some personal time with friends and family, reveling in the opportunity to enjoy food and goodwill. May your grills be hot and your drinks cold. It’s easy to think of Memorial Day as a day off from work or school, which it is, but the meaning behind the day is much greater.
Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the history of Memorial Day aside from the general concept that it is a day to remember servicemen and women who have died in battle defending our country. Flags and flowers are placed on the gravesites of military members, and ceremonies are held at Arlington National Ceremony and throughout the country.
Placing flowers on soldiers’ graves is a tradition started by women in southern states during and after the Civil War. States throughout the North and South soon observed the tradition and the day became known as Decoration Day. In the 1910s, Moina Michael started the practice of wearing red poppies in honor of dead military personnel on Memorial Day, and the tradition of veterans’ organizations giving away red poppies continues today.
Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971, to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Because it’s always tied to a three-day weekend, some people believe the true meaning of Memorial Day is lost in the midst of parties and other fun activities. In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed, asking for all Americans to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time to honor the dead. It’s a simple gesture that causes us to pause and reflect.
Many of us have relatives and ancestors who died in battle. While it’s important to celebrate our freedoms joyfully on Memorial Day, it’s also important to acknowledge their sacrifices.